About Peter DeHaan

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan shares his passion for life and faith through words. Peter DeHaan’s website (http://peterdehaan.com) contains information and links to his blogs, newsletter, and social media pages. Peter DeHaan is the president of Peter DeHaan Publishing, Inc., (http://peterdehaanpublishing.com) the publisher and editor of Connections Magazine and AnswerStat, and editor of Article Weekly.

Five Downsides of Traditional Publishing

Five Downsides of Traditional PublishingIn my post “5 Reasons Why a Writer Should Go With a Traditional Publisher,” I gave five advantages of traditional publishing. Although these reasons are compelling, there are also some downsides. Consider these five items:

1) It Takes Longer: Unless a book is “fast-tracked” it will typically take eighteen months to two years from your first pitch to it sitting on bookstore shelves. Smaller presses may be nimbler. While larger publishers seek to streamline their processes, but the bottom line is, traditional publishing takes a long time.

2) Agents Are Often Required: Increasingly, publishers will only deal with agents. It makes publishers’ jobs easier, as agents become the first level of screening. Unfortunately, finding an agent is challenging. Since agents are paid on commission they won’t take a project they don’t think they can sell.

3) Rejection is Likely: For those publishers who will talk directly to writers, the odds of them being accepted are small, sometimes less than one in a hundred. Even with an agent, rejection is expected.

4) Authors Must Market Their Own Book: Traditional publishers will do a small amount of promotion for all their authors, but the bulk of their attention and dollars go to the A-list authors. If a book is to sell, the author is the best person to make it happen.Don’t rely on book royalties to pay bills; treat them as a bonus, if they occur. Click To Tweet

5) Be Patient With Royalties: The process of publishers accounting for and paying royalties is confoundingly slow. Don’t rely on book royalties to pay bills; treat them as a bonus—if they occur. Since initial book sales are applied against the advance, some authors never sell enough copies to earn any royalties—ever.

Save

Save

Do You Need a Blog to Build Your Author Platform?

Too many experts say writers must blog, but that may not be good advice

What Are You Willing to Give Up So You Can Write?As writers we’re told that if we want to be successful at publishing our work, then we need an author platform. Yes, this is true. Publishers expect writers to have a platform. In fact, it seems, platform may supersede writing quality. After all, a publisher can fix our writing much easier than they can build up our author platform.

A common example of building an author platform is blogging. At one time blogging was held up as an essential requirement if a writer wanted to land a publishing deal. I think this has moderated somewhat in the past couple years, but there are still many voices saying that writers need a blog if they hope to find success.

So, do you need to blog to build your author platform?

Since I am a blogger, it may surprise you to hear me say the answer is no. As a writer you do not need a blog.

  • If logging will distract you from writing, then don’t blog.
  • If blogging is something you dread, then you shouldn’t do it.
  • If blogging will rob you of joy or suck the life out of you, then you shouldn’t do it.

Don’t let someone guilt you into blogging if you don’t want to do it. Click To TweetDon’t let someone guilt you into blogging if you don’t want to do it. Readers will know your heart’s not in it, and they won’t follow you. When this happens your blogging accomplishes nothing. However…

  • If you like to blog, then maybe you should.
  • If blogging serves as a creative outlet, then go ahead and pursue it.
  • If you enjoy connecting with readers through your blog, then blog away.

A couple years ago, I gave a presentation about blogging at a writer’s conference. A few months later I ran into someone who heard my presentation, and she was quick to thank me.

She said because of my talk she decided not to blog. I was devastated and felt I had failed her. But she was quick to clarify. She said that in listening to me, she realized she didn’t want to blog but felt she was supposed to. My words gave her the freedom to say, “No,” and she was grateful for it.

If blogging is a burden, you shouldn’t do it. Focus on writing first, and worry about platform later.

What Are You Willing to Give Up So You Can Write?

Being a writer requires giving up other things, and making it a priority requires sacrifice

What Are You Willing to Give Up So You Can Write?It’s been said that some people really don’t want to write, they want to have written. They want to see the results, without putting in the work. Yet writing requires effort and that effort necessitates that we prioritize the things we do.

It seems everyone I know is too busy. This includes writers. We struggle to find time to write. Yet by adjusting our priorities, we can make the time. What will you give up to get there?

If writing is important to you, if having written is your goal, what will you sacrifice so you can write?

Television: I don’t know anyone who doesn’t watch TV. I try to keep my viewing habits in check, but I still spend too much time watching TV. Though this often happens late in the evening when I’m too tired to write, I also know that if I watched less TV I would have more time to write.

Social Media: The lure of social media distracts many writers from doing what they need to do. They sit down at their computer to write but decide to check Facebook first. An hour later they haven’t written a single word for their project, but they have read lots of updates and made a couple posts themselves. Next they slide over to Twitter or LinkedIn or Goodreads or Pinterest or whatever else beckons them. They never get around to writing. Scale back on social media to ramp up writing time.

Sleep: I’ve heard of many writers who give up sleep to find time to write. Personally I wouldn’t recommend it, because if I’m tired I have trouble writing or at least writing anything worthwhile. Yet I am disciplined to get up early in the morning and write, when I could roll over and sleep for a few minutes longer.We need to make some sacrifices, or we’ll never have enough time to write. Click To Tweet

Recreation: Another consideration is the things we do in our leisure time. Call this rest and relaxation. While taking time to rejuvenate ourselves is wise, too much recreation only serves as a distraction and offers no additional benefit.

Relationships: Another area is relationships. Since many writers are introverts and in some cases, recluses, be careful about giving up relationships that are meaningful and helpful. Yet some relationships aren’t beneficial. We may persist out of habit or guilt or obligation, but instead of adding to our life, these relationships suck the life from us.

It’s been said that we become a composite of the five people we spend the most time with. We need to make sure we’re spending time with the right people and avoid relationships that warrant less attention or no attention. This then becomes found time to write.

It’s wrong to assume we need to give up everything to write, but we do need to make some sacrifices or we’ll never have enough time to write. Even worse we may never even start.

UR Turn: Are You on Google+?

Despite what seems like user apathy, Google+ continues to move forward

UR Turn, Help me finish ths post by sharing...In talking about social media for authors, we’ve looked at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Goodreads. What about Google+?

I’m on Google+, but I often wonder why.

Google+ began six years ago as a direct competitor to Facebook. That didn’t work out so well. Though I launched my page and played around with it, I didn’t get it.

Two years ago Google+ began shifting from a basic social networking site to a content curation site. I still don’t get it. But I’m still there.Do you use Google+? What do you like about it? Click To Tweet

And this year, they rolled out some new features.

Maybe someday I’ll understand how to use Google+ and begin to do something with it other than automatically post my blog entries.

I want to know what you think about Google+. Do you have a presence there? Do you use it? My page is https://plus.google.com/+PeterDeHaanAuthor

Your Turn: In the comment section below link to your Google+ account or let us know what you think about it.

Save

Five Reasons a Writer Should Self-Publish

Five Reasons a Writer Should Self-Publish

1) Greater Control: Self-published authors enjoy more say over their work and the finished product. This can be good, or it can work against them, but either way they have more control, usually a lot more.

2) Earn More Per Book: Self-published authors earn more on each book sale, generally much more: five times as much or even greater.

3) Faster: Production of a self-published book is quicker, putting it in the hands of readers faster than a traditional publisher could ever hope to do. This means writers can start selling books sooner and make money quicker.Self-publishing is ideal for small and undefined markets. Click To Tweet

4) Ideal for Small Niches: If your market is small or hard to reach, traditional publishers will not likely be interested. Self-publishing is ideal for small and undefined markets.

5) Great for Entrepreneurs: Self-publishing is effectively running a small business. The entrepreneurially minded will enjoy this option, realizing the rewards of hard work.

Given all this, wouldn’t every writer want to self-publish?

Save

Save

Five Reasons a Writer Should Go With a Traditional Publisher

Five Reasons a Writer Should Go With a Traditional PublisherIn “Why Self-publishing vs Traditional Publishing Doesn’t Matter” I pointed out that both options have the potential to satisfy the core needs of a writer seeking publication. Writers must carefully consider the pros and cons of each option before pursuing either one. Future posts will consider some of these issues.Five reasons why a writer should go with a traditional publisher. Click To Tweet

To start the discussion, here are five reasons why a writer should go with a traditional publisher:

1) Wider Distribution: Traditional publishers have distribution avenues that are effectively not available to self-published books. Sure, there are work-around solutions, but they’re limited and require much time and effort. Traditional publishers handle the distribution, easy peasy.

2) An Advance: Traditional publishers provide an advance. While the advances are getting smaller, they still exist. Self-publishers never receive an advance. In fact, self-publishing costs money, so it’s like a negative advance.

3) More Prestige: An author of a traditionally published book earns greater respect and garners more esteem.

4) Higher Quality: Traditional publishers generally produce a higher quality product. There are more eyes looking at it to catch errors and make it the best they can.

5) They Do the Heavy Lifting: What about e-books, hard cover and paperback, press releases, cover designs, ISBN and bar codes, back cover material, and author photos? A traditional publisher handles all these items. There’s nothing for the author to master or worry about; traditional publishers make it happen.

Given all this, why would anyone want to self-publish? Next week, we’ll consider why.

Save

Save

Is Blogging a Form of Self-Publishing?

Is Blogging a Form of Self-Publishing?I once read that blogging is a form of self-publishing. The author’s opinion gave me pause. It seemed a simplistic claim. I felt it in some way diminished the noble art of publishing.

Anyone can blog, and it seems most everyone does, but not most everyone self-publishes a book, even though the tools are there so that anyone can.

While some blogs are profound and worthy, other blogs are trivial and unworthy.

Oh, wait, some self-published books are profound and worthy, while others are trivial and unworthy. Perhaps there are some parallels after all.

Given that some blogs become books, either verbatim or as a springboard, perhaps blogging is prelude or preparation to self-pub.Blogging is a form of self-publishing. Click To Tweet

What I do know is that blogging is good practice for publishing. Blogging can accomplish the following:

Teaches Us to Meet Deadlines: Having a regular blogging schedule gives us mini-deadlines to hit. Every week we must write, produce, and publish what we create. If we miss a deadline our readers know it. Even worse, we know it. Deadlines prep us to be ready to hit bigger deadlines later for our books.

Trains Us to Write When We Don’t Feel Like It: Writers write—even when we don’t want to. Sometimes we need to write when we’re sick or tired or lacking motivation or have nothing to say. That’s life, and blogging trains us to realize and accept that.

Conditions Us to Publish: We write a post, edit it, and then…vacillate. It’s scary to press “publish” and share our work with the world. What if they don’t like it? What if the piece isn’t ready? But after a couple dozen posts, it gets easier; after a couple hundred, it’s not a problem; and after a couple thousand, I don’t even think about it. That readies us to click publish on our books, too.

Prepares Us to Receive Feedback: Blogging puts our words out for the public to see. Some will like what we write and others won’t. Others will point out typos, and a few will find errors that don’t exist. This will happen with books but on a greater scale. Blogging prepares us for that.

Yes, blogging is a form of self-publishing. So if you blog, that means you’re a self-published author.

Save

Save

Save

UR Turn: Have You Used Dictation Software to Write?

Authors who use dictation claim a much higher writing speed

UR Turn, Help me finish ths post by sharing...I’ve recently been experimenting with using dictation to write and bought a USB headset to reduce dictation errors. So far I’m excited with the process and anxious to get better at it. To accomplish this, I’ve bought Dragon speech recognition software and will begin using it.

What are your thoughts about dictation?

Have you considered it? Did you try it and give up?

If you do dictation, what software and hardware do you use? What are the benefits? What advice can you offer?What are your thoughts about dictation? Click To Tweet

Please share your input in the comments below.

Save

Why You Need a USB Headset for Dictation Success

A quality headset reduces dictation errors

USB Headset for Dictation SuccessLast week I shared my first steps at using dictation as an alternative way to write. To test dictation I didn’t invest any money in software or hardware, as I merely wanted to do a proof-of-concept before I spent any money.

I used Google Docs, a Chrome browser, and a cheap analog headset that plugged into the audio port on my computer. Though a less-than-ideal configuration, it did confirm that dictation was a viable solution to creating first drafts. Given this arrangement, and the fact that I’m new to dictation, I wasn’t discouraged with my accuracy rate of about 80 percent.

Of course, I wanted better. The first step was to try a different headset. However, going from a wired headset to a wireless headset made things worse. So I ordered a mid-range priced USB headset. I’m using it today, and my accuracy rate is increased to the low-90s. I’m elated over this progress.

My next step is to buy Dragon software, a highly recommended dictation tool for writers. With this, and once I train it to my voice, I expect my accuracy rate to go even higher. Of course, my productivity will increase with it.With dictation you have to speak your punctuation marks, but it’s not a hard skill to learn. Click To Tweet

With dictation I had to learn to speak my punctuation. Google Docs includes six punctuation phrases, which we need to speak to make them appear on the page. These are period, comma, question mark, exclamation point, new line, and new paragraph. (I understand Dragon software has a greater array of commands.)

I was amazed to see how quickly I got used to saying these punctuation codes. After only a few sessions, they flowed quite easily.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. For now the focus is on the headset.

I needed a better one. My old analog headset, which didn’t work so well, cost about $20 some seven years ago. The wireless headset I tried, which also plugged into my computer analog port, was even older.

The recommendation to minimize dictation errors is to use a USB headset. This has a digital interface instead of analog, which allows for better volume consistency for dictation.

With my analog headsets, I would frequently get warnings that the software was having trouble hearing me. When this happened my error rate increased or the recording stopped. Once I switched to the USB headset these problems went away.

The USB headset I bought was a mid-range product. With shipping it cost less than $50. The result of my increase in dictation quality was worth the investment.

I’m now pursuing dictation with even more excitement, and the introduction of professional dictation software should help make the process go better and faster. I can hardly wait.

I’ll share more once the software is installed, and I begin using it.

Until then, happy writing.

Should You Use Dictation to Write?

Writers claim to dramatically increase their writing speed by speaking instead of typing

Write faster, try dictation.In listening to podcasts and reading blogs, I’ve heard a lot about writers using dictation. This intrigued me. There are two reasons why I wanted to try dictation instead of typing when composing my first drafts.

Why Diction?

Increased Speed: The most attractive reason for dictation comes from the promise of increased output. Some writers claim to hit speeds of up to 5,000 words per hour when using dictation. Though I have no expectations of hitting that number, the idea of creating content faster really intrigues me.

Protect Wrists: The other reason I’m curious about dictation is for an alternative to typing to reduce repetitive strain injury (RSI) or carpal tunnel syndrome. Indeed, there are times when after too many days of logging too many hours of typing that my wrists grow tender. When this comes it’s too late to do my wrist exercises to minimize the impacts of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Being able to speak my words instead of typing them provides an alternative data-entry method. And it’s always good to have a backup plan if for some reason I must ease up on my typing. In fact, concern over tender wrists is one reason why I take a break from writing on Saturdays. I want to give my wrists a rest from the daily strain of typing.

Why Not Dictation?

However, despite these two benefits to spur me forward, there have also been three reasons why I was reluctant.

Voice Strain: My first concern is voice strain. Perhaps because I don’t have a reason to talk much throughout my workday, I find that it’s very easy to strain my voice. Sometimes even giving a half-hour presentation will be enough to cause my voice to falter. An hour is about as much as I can speak without going hoarse. Perhaps with practice I can extend this time, but I’m not sure.

Speaking Quality: My next concern is the quality of my speech. My diction is not great. I can pronounce the same word different ways and pronounce different words the same. This presents a problem. However, my speaker-independent smartphone seldom misunderstands my verbal instructions, so I’m no longer as concerned. And with professional dictation software that I can train to learn my voice, I could minimize this potential problem even more.

Writing Style: The third reason I was hesitant to try dictation is that my speaking style is different than my writing style. I feared that I would spend too much time editing my dictated words that I would negate the time savings from using dictation.

Conclusion

Despite my apprehension, the allure of increasing my writing output and saving my wrists was enough to cause me to seriously consider dictation. But before I spent money on software and hardware I wanted to do some testing before making an investment.

Without spending a penny, I did just that. When accessing Google Docs through the Chrome browser there is a dictation feature (go to “tools” and select “voice typing”). For hardware, I used a standard headset I already had. Though this was not the ideal test, it would be enough to let me see if dictation held potential for me.

I’ve tried it, and I liked it.Even though I’m new at dictation, I’ve already realized an increase in writing productivity. Click To Tweet

For the last couple weeks, I’ve been writing all my blog post and articles using dictation. Even though I’m new at it, I’ve already realized an increase in writing productivity. And as I get better, I expect an even greater boost in output.

Next week I’ll share more about my process, and how I’m moving forward with dictation. But for now, I wanted to share my initial thoughts so you could consider dictation.

Until then happy writing.

(By the way, the first draft of this 650-word post took me under ten minutes using dictation; typing would have been at least 45 minutes.)